Is it Illegal to Obscure Your License Plate?

You may have seen other cars with tinted screens over their license plates or perhaps another device that obscures it and wondered why anyone would want to put that on their car. More often than not, it’s so that they can get away from the prying eye of traffic cameras, but is it even legal to obscure your license plate?

Don’t try this at home

Red light cameras and toll booths really do tend to get in the way of our daily lives. After all, there’s nothing worse than going on about your day, running errands, and trying to beat that upcoming yellow light, only to cross the intersection on a red and see that bright light flashed at you. Say cheese, you’ve just been caught. Enjoy your ticket.

However, with a quick search on Amazon, you can easily find a plethora of license plate blockers and tinted shields to handily block both your front and rear plates. It’s a tempting proposition, considering most of the options cost less than $20. However, that $20 could end up costing you a lot more if you get caught with it in your car.

a man holding a covered-up license plate
DENVER,CO.-JAN. 29,2004-Colorado House Representative Frank Weddig (36-D), holds a sample of a car license plate with a cover that defeats photo radar cameras. (DENVER POST PHOTO BY LYN ALWEIS) (Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

It’s against the law

There are different laws in all 50 states concerning your license plate’s visibility, however, it’s most likely the same type of verbiage for all states. According to Road and Track, one such law example would be:

The plate shall be maintained free from foreign materials that obscure or partially obscure the registration information, and in a clearly legible condition. – MCL 257.225(2)

That’s a pretty roundabout way of saying that you can’t obscure your license plate in any way, shape, or form so that the law can easily identify your vehicle. If anything, check your local laws to see what they say about covering your license plate, but chances are, they will probably say something to the same effect. Either way, we suggest staying on the right side of the law because you can get pulled over and fined for it.

Credit: Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey

What about removing my front plate?

Another tactic you might consider is to remove your front license plate to maybe at least thwart some of those pesky cameras. Also, it makes your car look better. However, that, too, might be illegal in your state and you can get pulled over and fined for it as well. Sure, it might be a small ticket, but the hassle of getting pulled over can be a huge pain in itself.

Fortunately, if you live in one of the following states, you can remove your front plate legally:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
A vermont license plate that says "be bad"
Vanity License Plate – Vermont (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Why You Shouldn’t Put Emojis in Your License Plate

Keep it legal

While we would all like to be like the secret agents we’ve seen in the movies and be able to change our license plates with the flip of a switch, or at the very least, obscure them, we can’t. It’s against the law and, technically, it’s really not worth the impending fine that you’ll get for doing it. Just do the right thing and keep your plate clean and clear.